Monday, September 12, 2005

The many faces of business changing around Fairfield

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Sep 10, 2005 - 10:09:59 pm PDT

The many faces of business changing around Fairfield

The appearance of Fairfield's business districts varies tremendously. Depending on which freeway exit into town one takes, Fairfield presents markedly different and incongruous faces.

The West Texas Street exit from eastbound I-80 leads to the Fairfield Auto Mall. While the west end of Auto Mall Parkway is fully developed, the eastern end is unfinished, both in terms of economic development (there are no automobile dealers and several vacant or soon-to-be-vacant parcels). Street infrastructure improvements are also needed.

However, big changes are being planned for Auto Mall Parkway. Improving Auto Mall Parkway (formerly Magellan Road) is one of the actions noted in the city's recently-adopted economic development strategy: The goal to improve the economic vitality of Fairfield's business districts can in this case be implemented by laying the foundation for expansion of the Auto Mall and recruitment of additional dealers (regional retailers) to Fairfield.

Auto Mall Parkway now contains one of the largest collections of automobile dealerships in the county-in an attractive, well-lit, landscaped setting that encourages comparison-shopping, coordinated marketing, and economies of scale. Changes planned for Auto Mall Parkway will strengthen Fairfield's position as a destination-for visitors as well as new car shoppers.

One of the biggest changes will be a new 62-foot tall "gateway" sign welcoming visitors to Fairfield. Sponsored by the Fairfield Hotel Association in association with Jelly Belly, the Auto Mall dealership group, and city of Fairfield, this new sign will feature Welcome Center information, an informational electronic reader board sign, a Jelly Belly logo and a sign panel for the Auto Mall. Look for the sign to be unveiled this fall.

New dealerships are also planned for the Auto Mall. On the west end, near Chadbourne Road, the city has approved a new Ford of Fairfield dealership. Site grading has commenced to allow the existing Ford dealership on Oliver Road to locate to this site. An additional auto dealership will also become their neighbor at the Auto Mall. There is also the possibility that smaller remnant parcels will become available for associated retail use. And while we are on the subject of retail, the existing Ford dealership site at Oliver Road will provide an excellent retail opportunity for a national or regional user when the property is vacated.

Readers of our column may recall that the city has reached an agreement to purchase the Economy Inn Motel at the eastern end of Auto Mall Parkway. The motel is currently scheduled to be demolished by the end of September. The resulting 1.5-acre vacant site, especially if combined with adjacent vacant property (4.5 acres), could be highly valuable for highway commercial or regional retail uses-including additional automobile dealerships interested in coming to the Solano County market. The City's vacant Fire Station property could also be attractive for auto related use.

The city is studying the feasibility of several public improvements for the east end of Auto Mall Parkway. One key project would improve and widen this segment of Auto Mall Parkway, from the West Texas Street off-ramp to Raleigh Drive across Ledgewood Creek. In addition, the public works department is investigating the possibility of initiating a project for the under grounding of overhead utilities.

The city's transportation division has also begun the design process for a new parking garage to be located at the Fairfield Transportation Center's Cadenasso Drive existing surface parking lot. The enhanced transportation infrastructure will complement new development, including automobile dealerships that we hope will be attracted to the Parkway.

Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. They can be contacted at 428-7461 or e-mail at or

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